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Doncaster Rovers picked up just their fourth win of the season two Saturdays ago when they saw off a wasteful Shrewsbury Town side 1-0 on home turf.
In a game where both sides were lethargic in the final third, Joseph Olowu was the hero on the occasion as the 22-year-old defender headed home Branden Horton‘s corner-kick with 11 minutes remaining in the game.
The result ended their run of seven games without a league win as they had managed just three draws and lost four games since a nerve-racking 3-2 victory over Cheltenham United on October 23.
With 16 points from 21 games, Doncaster Rovers are currently bottom but one in the EFL League One standings, one point above rock-bottom Crewe Alexandra and six behind Shrewsbury Town just outside the relegation zone.
Their poor performance has been in no small part owing to their lethargic display at the attacking end of the pitch, where they boast the league’s poorest record with just 13 goals scored so far.
Another area needing improvement sooner rather than later in their race to beat the drop is their dreadful form away from home as Gary McSheffrey‘s side have picked up the fewest points on the road this season after claiming one draw and losing 10 of 11 away games.
Following his side’s win over Shrewsbury Town last time out, McSheffrey could name a similar XI on Monday, meaning we could see a back three of Joseph Olowu, Tom Anderson and Kyle Knoyle shielding Louis Jones in goal.
Lirak Hasani was handed just his second starting appearance of the season in the aforementioned game, but the Kosovo youngster could return to the bench after his quiet performance, with Aidan Barlow pushing for a starring role.
As for Sunderland, Johnson has several issues to contend with on the injury fronts as the likes of Dennis Cirkin and Corry Evans have been sidelined through hernia and calf problems respectively.
Union Berlin loanee Leon Dajaku hobbled off the pitch after just 41 minutes in versus Ipswich Town two Saturdays ago and the German forward is out of contention for Monday’s game.
Luke O’Nien is set to sit out his eighth consecutive game after picking up an injury in November’s clash with Shrewsbury Town, while Aiden McGeady is not expected to feature until January after sustaining a knee problem.
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Doncaster Rovers possible starting lineup:
Jones; Knoyle, Anderson, Olowu; Hasani, Smith, Galbraith, Horton; Dodoo, Rowe, Hiwula-Mayifuila
Sunderland possible starting lineup:
Hoffmann; Wright, Flanagan, Doyle; Hume, Neil, Winchester, Embleton; Pritchard, Broadhead, Stewart